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Two Teenagers Arrested in Vandalism at Ventura Schools

January 15, 2002|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Students at two Ventura schools found boarded-up windows, patches of paint primer and damaged artwork at their campuses Monday morning, fallout from a weekend vandalism spree.

Two Ventura boys, ages 16 and 17, were arrested Sunday in the incident, which caused more than $10,000 worth of damage.

At Balboa Middle School and nearby Mound Elementary School, vandals used rocks to shatter glass doors and windows, and red and black spray-paint to mark up dozens of walls, doors, desks and student lockers.

Inside one Balboa classroom, the phrase "Meat is Murder" was scrawled on a blackboard. At Mound, "Hippies Are Alive And Well" was scribbled on a classroom door.

"I haven't seen it this bad in years," Balboa Principal Tom Temprano said.

Mound Principal Rich Kirby was similarly surprised.

'We've had graffiti here before, but not to this extent-never this much," he said.

The damage was still being repaired by school maintenance workers late Monday. Police said they may seek restitution from the parents of the teens.

Few details were being released about the suspects, but officers said they tracked the boys to a neighborhood near the schools after matching tagging crew symbols at both schools to graffiti left recently on an apartment complex in the 700 block of Hill Road.

"It was the same words and style on the walls of the schools and on the apartments," Ventura Police Sgt. Brock Avery said. "They left a trail, and the officers went knocking on doors and found them.'

Police found items that had been stolen from the schools in the suspects' possession, Avery said.

The vandals probably went out late Saturday or early Sunday and hit Balboa first, possibly scaling a large wall to reach the school's inner quad area, officials said.

Once on the campus, in the 200 block of Hill Road, the vandals sprayed graffiti inside a sixth-grade classroom, doused a television with paint and dented a kiln in a nearby art room.

Four portable classrooms had windows broken or graffiti damage. A large glass door at the school's entrance was shattered.

In addition, several clay figurines-student art projects that were being stored in a classroom-were defaced with paint.

"Most of the tagging was indecipherable, just scribble," Temprano said.

After leaving Balboa, the vandals probably crossed a playground to reach Mound Elementary in the 400 block of Hill Road, officials said.

Although less damage was done there, Kirby said, the vandals used rocks to shatter a 4-by-5-foot cafeteria window and sprayed gray paint on a dozen classroom doors and several outdoor lunch tables.

New climbing equipment on the playground was marred with scribblings from a black permanent marker.

In all, officials counted more than 150 acts of graffiti and vandalism at the two schools.

No classes were canceled or relocated, but the incidents prompted concern by students and parents, several of whom called administrators.

"It makes us kind of scared to come to school," said 14-year-old Alyssa Salinas, a Balboa eighth-grader.

Temprano said that his school has been sprayed with graffiti several times during the last month, mainly when students were on winter break.

Both boys were booked into juvenile hall. Avery said he expected they would be released to their parents' custody by late Monday.

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